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6 ways to hangover-proof your holidays

By Sherri Young, RN, Nurse-Educator

Despite our best intentions, sometimes the holiday season feels more like the hangover season. With so many festivities, it’s all too easy to overindulge in alcohol-containing good cheer. And suffer for it the next day in the form of headaches, nausea, dizziness, thirst — or worse.

People drinking on New Year's Eve

There’s only one foolproof way to prevent hangover symptoms, and that’s not to drink alcohol.

But, just in case, you do decide to indulge, here are some easy steps to help your body better recover from your next evening of holiday merriment.

1. Choose your alcohol wisely. Some alcohols contain higher levels of congeners — chemical compounds that are especially likely to trigger hangover symptoms. Congeners are thought to develop during the liquor aging process. Whiskey, bourbon, scotch, brandy, cognac and other darker liquors are some of the worst offenders for congeners.

Alcohols with lower levels of congeners include vodka, gin and wine. Any kind of alcohol can prompt a hangover, but avoiding congeners may help to minimize symptoms.

2. Spice up your drinks with anti-inflammatory curcumin. Curcumin is a compound which has powerful anti-inflammatory and liver-detoxifying properties. It can help ward off headaches associated with hangovers. What’s more, research shows curcumin is effective in protecting the liver against damage induced by chronic alcohol intake.

Pop a curcumin supplement before the party — or add the spice to mixed drinks for an extra flavor kick. You can make a simple turmeric martini by mixing together vodka, carrot juice, a drizzle of honey and a generous pinch of turmeric. Shake and serve with a light sprinkle of black pepper (pepper aids in your absorption of curcumin).

3. Boost your magnesium and vitamin C levels. Both magnesium and vitamin C support the liver in its job of breaking down alcohol and eliminating it from the body. Pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, cashews and pecans are all rich sources for magnesium — and double as great party snacks. To give your vitamin C levels an instant lift, order a plain seltzer with big squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

friends at holiday brunch party

4. Wet your whistle with water. Alcohol is a natural diuretic, which not only helps explain why you need to hit the ladies room a little more often at the big party, but also why you feel so parched and dehydrated the next day. The best preventative measure for this hangover symptom is to boost your water intake in the days before your planned festivities. At the party, drink a glass of mineral water or juice between alcoholic beverages to help offset fluid loss and replace some of the vitamins and minerals being flushed out with it. Drink another glass of water before going to bed.

5. Don’t go to cocktail hour on an empty stomach. Food slows down the absorption rate of alcohol, giving your liver more time to gradually metabolize it. Before heading out, fill up on foods that offer a good balance of proteins and fats — think nut butter or cheese on whole grain crackers or a turkey sandwich. At the gathering, grab a few hors d’oeuvres — and eat them — before you order your drink.

6. Keep your liver in tiptop shape with milk thistle. Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, assists the liver in metabolizing toxic compounds, including alcohol, by protecting and repairing damaged liver cells. When your liver has an easier time clearing your body of alcohol, it’s easier for your body to bounce back with fewer hangover symptoms. Milk thistle is also helpful after the holidays as your liver recovers from all the merriment.

For now, get in the habit of brewing up a warm cup of milk thistle tea when you return home from your latest festive outing.

And before you take the first sip, you can even make a toast — to holidays without hangovers!

7 tips for healthy, happy holiday eating.

Last updated on 11/25/2019

Last Updated: June 9, 2021
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